Summer Institute 2009

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The Summer 2009 Institute is a program bringing students from community colleges, tribal colleges and teachers from middle schools together to learn about how to use game design for computer science education. The Scalable Game Design project supports teachers through a grant by the National Science Foundation.

See Also


Wednesday, June 3: John Zola, How to teach (for students), debrief

What works when coaching?

  1. Seeing examples
  2. Repetition
  3. Clear explanations of what to do
    1. Macro-task level
    2. Micro-implementation
  4. Amount of support
  5. Don’t grab the mouse!!
  6. You’re just doing it for them
  7. Foreshadowing – where is this going? More of this now than before
  8. Real world ideas/applications
  9. Lots of ideas that cross multiple boundaries
  10. Demonstrating short cuts. Use mouse when appropriate
  11. Know when to let go. Know where this is going
  12. Share your curiosity
  13. Note learning styles
  14. Know when to let go
  15. Recognize there is a learning curve
  16. Share ideas & make your thinking public
  17. Ask questions
  18. Wait time
  19. Listen clearly

What got in the way?

  1. Number of people in room
  2. Not finishing what started
  3. Learning styles not identified
  4. System switch/compatibility
  5. Pacing
  6. Goal clarification vs. exploration
  7. Time limits
  8. Needing more assistance sometimes
  9. Prior knowledge

Rules of thumb

  1. Patience
  2. Have pre-written materials for students
  3. Figure out their learning style
  4. Not trying to control their computer
  5. Let them do things at their own pace
  6. Let them make mistakes – critique and process
  7. Problem solving out loud
  8. Give more hints
  9. Wait
  10. Audience level of skill
  11. Allow “custom” stuff, choices
  12. Be prepared

Week 2: Teachers

Tuesday, June 9. Morning: David Webb, debrief of making Frogger,

What are some of the key insights and critical learning opportunities?

  • the first time it is very important: first agent, first rule, first method
  • gender specific design: girls like to make it pretty
  • multiple intelligence: use different ways to look at things, use gentle scaffolding
  • have an understanding of some of the problems that can happen, e.g., agents hidden somewhere in the worksheet

Was there something particularly frustrating part of the 5 part intro

  • pacing: uneven, e.g., transport was much harder
  • once one gets behind it can be hard to catch up
  • "I think this will drive home the IF THEN thinking more than any of my science experiments"
  • frustration with worksheet: forgot to save, needed to rearrange the content of worksheet, had to move the river once I realized I needed the grotto at the top
  • it would be nice to have a handout to show the final product

How Andri and Krista decided to make the Monday 5 day tutorial

  • tried to align behaviors to make things simpler, e.g., have the truck move in same direction as the logs
  • the way we split the 5 lessons: split the tasks up to have concrete results for each step
  • feel free to make your own chunking: you have to move pieces around. You may want to move pieces around to keep the transport as separate part
  • creativity is very important: allow for some creative freedom, e.g., make you own art or theme
  • how to explain the drowning frog in a science class? Could use a stream of lava ;-)
  • could I have frog being generated and measure and then plot how many make it? A: yes, you can use the generator patterns, collect data, and plot it in AgentSheets or Excel.
  • sometimes I would just do things but not necessarily understand what I am doing. What can I do? Groups discussions; use the "explain button", become the object, be the Frog

What is the problem with computer science?

  • in Pueblo: private school is leading: middle school kids can some some programming, type 40 words a minute and then need to take a one year keyboarding course at the high school.
  • in Boulder: some parents think their students are already spending too much time with the computer but the kids just USE stuff they do not have DESIGN skills.

Time for Planning

  • start making notes: in the Wiki

Idea: have a Scalable Game Design Competition

Tuesday, June 9. Afternoon: John Zola, Socratic Questioning as Teaching Method

Participants are learning to help others through asking the right kinds of questions.

  • participants are paired up into questioners and questionees (designers)
  • they pick a simulation from a list of 8 (including Sokoban, Pac-man, ...)
  • questioner can only ask
  • regroup but with switched roles: questioners <-> designers
  • this time the group needs to pick a scenario that neither one has worked before.
  • designer stand up and go to new group
  • this time the group does NOT know about their roles! Could be either one...
  • coin toss to decide for ALL the groups to select the role
  • questioners move on to next group
  • questioners remain questioners
  • everybody is returning to their desk

exploring insights

What did you notice about being a questioner?

  • questions changed from one round to another, e.g, what types of agents
  • was simple to have a question about a game/simulation you know
  • what was the strategy in this case? Worked well because partner could relate.
  • if the teacher knows little: questions are more generic
  • if the teacher know more: question are specific
  • is one better than the other?
  • specific questions can lead the witness
  • a student may have an idea but not the necessary foundation to make things work
  • simulations versus games: simulations are simpler to connect to the real world and we can relate to it.

Was there frustration about only be able to ask questions?

  • yes: wanted to give feedback
  • frustrating both ways
  • John's view: kids like to have the teachers do the thinking for them.
  • questions only will force people to pay attention to the answers instead to leading to some other place: "I will help you to design the game that I want (not you)"
  • could be an issue of authenticity: are these questions real or fake

Was it useful to prepare the questions by writing them on paper?

  • many abandoned their initial questions in response to answers
  • generic questions can be useful: what are the agents, what do they do, how do they interact

Other observations

  • backgrounds matter a lot: what kind of experience do they have in common? What is different.
  • I do not want to hear about how difficult something is
  • John: demand based knowledge systems: use the questioning approach
  • John: good strategy: if students ask a question, ask why they are asking the questions and how the question will solve their problem.

Tuesday, June 10. Debrief, David Webb, What happened at Science Discovery?

  • kids moved at amazing pace, e.g., Space Invaders at 3 hours
  • the projected screen was hard for kids to see
  • students independence: pretty high
  • frustration: gender issues: there was only one girl. She was frustrated and behind
  • critical events: a kid creating animation; a kid trying to make space invaders moving;
  • was this a helpful visit: real world example